The 1980s saw London’s vibrant nightlife really come alive. The world of disco had arrived bringing with it a pop of neon lights shooting within the dark and mysterious walls that to an outsider looked like a simple building. Volume poured out of the speakers, as the dancefloor burst with expression and people unleashed their revolutionary alter egos, an escape from reality.
A nighttime escape created life shaping moments: people forming lifelong friends, falling in love and welcoming an escapade of new cultures and exhilaration into Britain, this is a staple of London’s iconic nightlife.
Unfortunately, this explosion of club-culture could not stand the test of time. The thirst for partying has slumped over the years, and it has caused apprehension as to what will become of our society if we abandon this incredible nighttime culture.
According to ALMR (the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers) there were 3,144 clubs across the UK in 2005, however this figure has depleted to 1,733 in 2016, with London as one of the most effected.
On the 16th September, the world-famous Farringdon nightclub ‘Fabric’ was controversially closed after the death of Ryan Browne and Jack Crossley, both 18 as a result of MDMA consumption. This sparked an overwhelming campaign with protestors using the mantra #SaveOurCulture in an attempt to save one of the last remaining nuclei of London’s nighttime culture, and to prevent the 24 hour city dying a drug induced death.
The campaign which raised almost £335,000 to fund Fabric’s legal fees, finally won their case on the 21st November 2016 when a deal was struck with Islington Council to re-open the club which was originally founded in 1999.
Hooray! Some may say. The reopening of Fabric is certainly a start, although it does not ensure the public that this is an end to the rapid decline of London’s nightlife, and the devastating effects it is having on our economy and society.
Dr. Henry Fisher, editor at Volteface Magazine whom explore alternative ways to approach current drug policies in the UK said: ‘The #SaveOurCulture campaign proves that our nightlife is not in total decline, it is important to adopt a different outlook in regards to drugs if the problem is to be well and truly tackled.’
This distinct viewpoint is echoed by Alexios Const, a student representative who worked for Fabric. He said: ‘clubs aren’t contributing to the drug war, electronic music and drugs go hand-in-hand so shutting down clubs won’t put a stop to the problem. A new solution needs to be sought to put an end to this decline.’
Const made the point that clubs such as Fabric and Studio 338 (which closed in August) ‘are representative to us millennials and youth in general and provide a means to express music and culture.’
Over the last eight years London has lost 50 per cent of its nightclubs and 40 per cent of its live music.
Club DJ Jordan Campbell voiced his concerns regarding the ‘dying club culture’ and the effect it is having on today’s DJ and music sector.
‘People are becoming less inclined to DJ due to the lack of clubs, there is simply nowhere to express our musical talent and it is increasingly difficult to establish a long-running DJ career.’
ALMR Chief Executive Kate Nichols commented: ‘London clubs produce some of the best musical talent around, they are an integral part of the zeitgeist providing opportunities to learn and break into the music industry.’
Nichols expanded to mention the effect this nightlife decline will have on the UKs economy and society: ‘It is an integral part of the country’s social fabric and crucial economic assets, particularly as drivers of growth in local areas.’
London mayor Sadiq Khan has also been vocal on the issue. In a statement, Khan expressed his disappointment that clubs, councils and the police cannot seem to find a way to keep clubs open and safe.
‘No single organisation or public body can solve these problems alone – we all need to work together to ensure London thrives as a 24-hour city, in a way that is safe and enjoyable for everyone.’
In August, Mr Khan announced he would appoint a ‘night czar’, who would receive a £35,000 salary in exchange for work to boost the city’s night time economy.
In addition, the long-awaited all-night tube service launched on 19 August on the Central and Victoria lines.
Khan said: ‘The night tube is absolutely vital to my plans to support and grow London’s night-time economy.’
The night tube is estimated to boost £360 million over the next 30 years and contribute to creating more jobs and supporting businesses.